Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Predicting the future part 1 (picks 1-11)

Next up, Fantasy Draft!

Well, ok. Not so much. Walter and I are going to try to assemble a team based on guys 23 and under. Here are the rules:

-25 players, one for every roster spot.

-Snake draft.

-Must pick one of every position and 4 pitchers before you are allowed to pick another person at the same position (so for example, you can't pick two second basemen before you pick one of everything else).

-You may pick a player at a given defensive position and 'move' him down to a position which is lower on the defensive spectrum. I guess this in a way violates the previous rule, but only if you say 'ok, this dude cannot play CF ever again, he is now a left fielder".

The general rule is that the defensive spectrum is as follows:
C-SS-CF-2B-3B-RF-LF-1B-DH

With the exceptions that Catchers can only be converted into 3B and below, and CF can only be converted into 3B and below due to the disjoint in specializations.

Them's the breaks.

Hopefully this will be somewhat interesting to people who understand baseball, while allowing ample opportunity for Walter and myself to make snide comments regarding each others genetic stock, upbringing, and general wealth as human beings. Finally, an always popular side-benefit is our prognostications will be preserved in the digital amber which in retrospect will should provide enlightening. Plus, we are both a little bored at the moment.

A random number generator placed me, Donny, with the first pick...


#1) - Francisco Liriano
Age: 22
Position: Starting pitcher

May be a surprising pick if you are a fan of King Felix that if I went for pitching I would pick this guy, but given the season he is putting up, how can you turn down Johan p.2? I can't, and so I will take Francisco Liriano and his 1.94 ERA, 10.15 K/9, and 4.43 K/BB ratios all in 102 IP. Sure he might be the latest flash in the pan, but I think he is for real, and we in the Donny War Room cannot think of a better player to base a franchise around.

_____________________________
Walter:

#2) – Joe Mauer
Age: 23
Position: Catcher

This must be a surprising pick for you as I have been hesitant on him all season. The bottom line on this pick is that there is poor depth at the position of catcher in the under 23 universe. The disparity between Mauer's upside and his next closest competitor (probably McCann or Martin) is greater than at any other position. Mauer's .380 average this season evidences what a good hitter he can be to all fields. Though he hasn't shown much power that it usually the last aspect of a player's game to develope. Mauer is such a good hitter, I have contended on several occasions that the Twins may be forced to move him to First Base despite his defense. Which brings us to defense. Mauer has one of the strongest arms in baseball right now, and while his footwork needs a lot of work (which is strange since he was a highly touted high school QB) you can teach footwork....you can't teach the kind of arm strength the kid has.

#3) - King Felix
Age: 20
Position: Starting pitcher

Though his performance has been worrisome at times this season, he still has some peripherals which are outstanding for a rookie pitcher: he is averaging nearly a strikeout an inning, he has struck out three times as many batters as he has walked, and although his HR totals are up he still has a respectable 2.21 GB:FB ratio. While Liriano has supplanted him as the best young pitcher in baseball, King Felix still has the stuff to be the clear #2 dog. Plus it is vital to remember that Felix is only 20 years old. In two seasons he may be equaling or outperforming what the 22 year Liriano is doing now.

_____________________________
Donny:

Man, you completely ruined my draft by doing that, I was seriously considering picking Mauer with the #1 pick, I even wrote out the post of when I drafted him. However, I was upset until I realized there is a clear response to your gamesmanship. We both were thinking that we could wait on the two best hitters because they play the same position and so we could hold on until the other guy picked one of them to pick the other.

I am speaking of course of:

#4) - David Wright
Age: 23
Position: 3B

#5) - Miguel Cabrera
Age: 23
Position: 3B CONVERTED to RF

Well, I hope you like apples.

Inextricably linked in the real world, now forever joined in the bizarre two-team universe we are creating. It is just a shame some of the value got ruined by having to move Cabrera to RF. Really, you can have Mauer and his unbelievable OBP out of catcher, because I just picked up more power than you could cobble together in the next 5 rounds. Looking forward, I am of the opinion that the guys with pure power develop the best, so it nice to have two guys with power, patience and pure hitting ability. Not to mention they both steal enough bases to be somewhat of a power-speed threat.

Plus I have problems with all of the pitchers remaining.

_____________________________
Walter:

Nice job. You are correct that I was waiting and assuming I would be able to get one of those two guys later on in the draft. That said, 3B and OF are BY FAR the deepest talent pools of under 23 players. Wright and Cabrera are the best of the bunch, but I think you are undervaluing the remaining guys a little if you think that nobody else can approach their production. You neglected to mention that David Wright plays gold glove defense at third base. Overall, those two guys are the best hitters in the entire draft and its hard to criticize you taking them both so early. That said, I think there is enough talent at 3B and OF to go around. Evidenced by.............

#6) - Alex Gordon
Age: 22
Position: 3B

I believe Alex Gordon to be the best pure hitting prospect in all of baseball. Though he hasn't done it on the major league level yet, he has dominated every level of comeptition he has played at from college ball to AA this season. He is also developing power at the tender age of 22, something that cannot be said about many prospects. He has 13 HR in 316 AA at bats this season and owns a sparkling 49:68 K:BB ratio (it is worth noting that in his college career he owned a carrer 139:106 ratio). Gordon looks like a perrenial 1.000 OPS guy to me.

#7 - Grady Sizemore
Age: 23
Position: CF

I tend to gravitate towards players who have proven themselves already and Sizemore has done just that. What I like best about Sizemore is his versatility. He can hit anywhere in the order, although I would like to see him get on base a bit more and strike out less if he was going to stick in the ledoff spot. I project Sizemore as a middle of the order type guy, capable of going 30-30 every season (let's think of him as ARod lite). Plus his superb outfield defense gives me 2 perrenial gold glovers up the middle.

_____________________________
Donny:

Couple quick points. I find it ironic you say you gravitate towards players who have proven themselves at the major league level after drafting a minor leaguer. Secondly, you are 100% right that there is unbelievable depth at the 3b position right now in the young guys. Off the top of my head I would put it at Wright, Cabrera, Gordon, Upton (now a 3B) Zimmerman, Marte, Encarnacion, Stewart, Laroche…ok, we better move on before I start regretting my picks. I have to console myself with two guys who are absolute locks to produce for the foreseeable future, and as you said and I forgot to mention, one of them plays GG quality defense at the hot corner.

Ok, I can move on now. By the way, good pick on Sizemore he was next under my eye, but you definitely overdrafted Gordon as a response to me picking those two. If the depth at 3B is bad for my picking the top 2 it is really bad for you picking him that high. No way I pick another 3B and convert him this early.

#8) - Brandon Wood
Age: 21
Position: Shortstop

I guess if I am building the best power hitting team I might as well go all the way. His defense is projected to be above average and dude hit 100 extra base hits last year. Sure it was in two levels of A-ball, but look at what he is producing in AA right now .384/571 with 20 homers and 34 doubles. So basically he is almost on pace to do it again. He has the potential to be the best power hitting shortstop not name Alex ever in the modern era. I’ll take it.

#9) - Jeremy Bonderman
Age: 23
Position: Starting pitcher

I know there are plenty of pitchers with a bit higher upside, but I will take the guy coming out of the injury nexes who seems ready to be a sturdy excellent pitcher going forward. Thing is even if you compare him to some of the other young pitchers making waves in the MLB who get a lot more press, Bonderman’s peripherals are right their with them. Plus you always have the potential that a guy with that much experience will be able to gain more baseball smarts just from exposure.


I disagree with you that I picked Gordon too high. He is projected as a third baseman and with all the depth the Royals have at first base (e.g. Huber) I think he will be given every opportunity to stay there. I did not think that you drafted either Wright or Cabrera too high, I just thought it was odd you drafted both of them with so much depth at the position. All that said I think Gordon projects much better to the ML level than Zimmerman or Marte for that matter. Zimmerman projects as a 20 HR guy with a lot of doubles and Marte nobody can quite get a handle on. I see Gordon as a David Wright clone (without the glove): .330, 30 HR, 110 RBI, .400 OBP, .950 OPS. Now of course Gordon has yet to prove it on the ML level (and Wright has) but he has the power, stroke, and batting eye to be a high OPS major leager for a long time.

__________________________
Walter:

As for your picks, I have to say I question both. I was very high on Wood last year but the more I read about him, the more I think he may have peaked in the minor leagues. First of all, he does not project as a SS, and if he does his defense is only adequate. Also, he hits for a ton of power but he strikes out a ton. His K's will keep him from ever posting a high average or OBP. I am thinking like .270, .350 for Wood. He will hit some homers though. You are right when you say Bonderman is a "safe" pick. We know what he has (and it's damn good), but I'm not sure there aren't some other guys out there who project better.

#10) - Philip Hughes
Age: 20
Position: Starting pitcher

It's a bit of a risk and I hate to do it and choose a Yankee, but I cannot pass on the best pitching prospect in the minor leagues. I haven't seen him throw so he doesn't pass the Walter "my own two eyes" test, but his numbers are flat our ridiculous. His career minor league numbers are 9-1 with a ridiculous 101-20 K:BB ratio. He is only 20 and is already dominating high A ball. I know it is risky to pick such a young guy so early, but his upside is unbelievable.

#11) - Kazmir
Age: 22
Position: Starting pitcher

A guy who has gone from the dog house to one of my favorite players in baseball in less than a year. Previously I was worried about his control because he walked a lot of batters in his first ML season. However, this year he has proved that he can harness his unbeleivable stuff while posting a ratio of 129:45. Moreover, his minor league ratios were very respectable at a career mark of 283 K's to 93 BB's. I have completely turned around on this guy and now believe he projects as an ace for years to come. In many ways this pick is similar to your Bonderman pick. They are very similar pitchers. However, I would rank Kazmir ahead of Bonderman for 2 reasons (1) he is younger, and (2) he is lefthanded. Other than that I think they are very similar.

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